Session 1: Introduction
It’s time for Part Two of Sister Talk: Faith in Action. And it’s all about Loving Others. So gather some sisters to talk with and let’s get started.
Wow! Words fail at the transformation the Bible study inspired by a t-shirt idea has taken over the last fifteen months. Taken over! Maybe those are the exact words to use.
The study of faith through Sister Talk has become something bigger than I ever imagined. And I believe it’s still in its infancy. May it’s toddling along at this point. But just like its older sister, the second half of the study has yet to be finished.
When the sister posted the announcement of Sister Talk: Faith – Part Two as an event on our new Facebook page, I must admit I went into a bit of a panic. It sounded like we actually had something finished and ready to teach…
The first Sister Talk: Faith came about quietly. A few emails to ladies we had regularly studied with in the past. Most we knew would be grace-filled as they went through the first study we authored. But the announcement. The publicity (albeit relatively small) felt very big. My words to God as the panic rose: This is going to be a disaster, isn’t it?
Yet in the microsecond following, I rebuked my own thought. Reminded myself it was His and He is faith-full, then I moved on to writing. writing. writing. Trusting He would provide. After all, what’s a study on faith without those writing being pressed to walk by faith: Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Just know, on my part, I would appreciate much grace from my sisters as we toddle our way through Sister Talk: Faith – Part Two.
Her email began, realizing we start next Tuesday…
I felt a little panic rise as I headed toward the shower. It has been over a year since we have done this. As I got ready for the day, a string of thoughts kept playing over and over in my mind.
How did we do this? How did it happen? What did I do during the pouring out of our first session? What did each day look like? How did we have enough time?
I honestly don’t have the answer to these questions. I remember meeting each Monday to hash out a session, and I remember the time it took to prepare, get words on paper, edit, reread, and edit some more. I remember, but I cannot tell you exactly how it happened which leaves me feeling somewhat lost. Like we’re headed out on a journey with an incomplete map. We know the general direction to take and where the stops will be on the way. Still, we don’t have all the details, and I’m not sure how this road will wind and curve, what steep inclines and descents we will face.
There will be baggage to abandon along the way and road signs pointing us to the next place. It’s time to head out on the journey. I have packed my bags and am fearfully ready.
What a beautiful picture of faith. Being fearfully ready to go, taking each step the moment I’m supposed to move, and trusting His leading in this study just like I did before.
My friend and spiritual mentor once shared with me, I don’t always remember what happens when God moves me to pray for someone or share with another. I can’t recall the details, my exact words. My not remembering is one of the visible signs that God was working. If He is doing the work, then why do I need to remember how to do it?
Ahhh… doing a second study focused on faith. Is it any wonder my own faith is being tested, purified, stretched beyond what I can see or imagine?
No… it’s not any wonder at all.
Lord, I’ve packed lightly for this journey. Nothing but Your Word and the things you’ve taught me. I feel unprepared and trembly. I hear You calling, guiding, urging me to take another step. I trust You more than I trust myself. Stretch me Lord… grow my faith in ways we cannot imagine. In Jesus name… Amen.
The process of teaching an unfinished study, includes the surprise of what it really looks like. What it was meant to be from the beginning. Something like raising a baby to a child, to a teen, then young adult.
The t-shirt’s basic concept was found in the book of James.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:17 NIV
The top ten ways to exercise faith were to be listed on the back. At the conclusion of Sister Talk: Faith in Action – Part One, a clearer picture came into view. All the words, the first five and the second five we are studying now, all connect into a picture of how active faith grows.
The first five:
all have to do with our relationship to God. How we love God.
The relationship begins by believing He exists and He is who He says He is. Then we build on the relationship by talking to Him in prayer. Next our conversations turn to trust as we place our confidence in Him. Trust deepens to obedience. And obedience to His Word is love. He receives our obedience as love and all His law leads us to love others.
The second set of five words we will be studying and learning to work out in our lives are:
These faith actions grow out of our loving relationship with God, and form the basis for loving others.
Over the next five weeks we’ll discover how respecting others moves us to share. Sharing deepens to giving. Our acts of love bring encouragement, not only to ourselves but to others, and lead to hope. Increasing the hope of Believers and instilling hope in unbelievers who He calls us to love.
Now the beautiful part! Each person who glimpses the hope of Christ in our actions of love through Him, have the potential to enter the cycle of faith and believe. Belief moving to prayer which fosters trust and obedience which equates to loving God. Loving God moves us to love others with respect, sharing, and giving, culminating in encouragement and hope, then… guess what? Then the potential for more to believe, pray, trust, obey, love… well you get the picture.
Let’s review Sister Talk: Faith in Action – Part One. Affirm the basis of our faith in loving God, as we move forward into loving others.
The first active step of faith is Believe.
The most important thing we learned about believe, is what it means to “believe in” as the Scripture says.
Read John 7:38
The original Greek for believe in is pisteuo eis.
Pisteuo means “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance – ‘to believe in, to have confidence in, to have faith in, to trust’” (Greek-English Lexicon, Louw-Nida). It shares the same root with other words translated as trust and faith.
Believe is not a word you keep in your head, it drives you to action. Each one of you today exercised pisteuo when you sat down in a chair. Did anyone think twice about whether the chair would hold you up? Probably not. That is a picture of pisteuo, believing as the Scripture says, no thought of doubt. Just acting on it.
In. You’d think there wouldn’t be much to say about the word “in,” but the Greek have several words for this preposition. The one used in this verse and others attached to believe (i.e. John 3:16) is eis. Eis means “extension toward a special goal – ‘to, toward, in the direction of’” (Greek-English Lexicon, Louw-Nida).
The eis following pisteuo gives it movement. It is not a one time event to believe in Jesus, it is a continual process of moving deeper and deeper into a goal of complete trust in Him and His Way, until you obey Him without a second thought. Just like when you sat in your chair.
The five basic faith actions of Believe are believing:
- God exists.
- God is God.
- We are all sinners in need of a Savior.
- Jesus is God in human flesh, fully God, fully human… God incarnate.
- God’s Word is His Word.
Where are you when it comes to “believing in,” trusting more and more, in God? His sovereignty and goodness? your need of a Savior? Jesus as God incarnate? God’s Word is His Word?
The second faith action in loving God is Pray. Prayer is simply a conversation with God. Once we believe He is, we begin to build a relationship with Him through prayer.
Read James 5:13-16
According to these verses who is called to pray? What benefits does this Scripture promise when we pray?
The five practices of prayer are:
- Being devoted to prayer.
To be devoted to something means to give yourself over to it, in this case prayer. How important is prayer in your life? What does your prayer life look during this season?
Do you practice all four parts of prayer? Why or why not?
Through our conversations with God, we begin to build Trust. Our love for God is often revealed through our level of trust in Him.
Trust means to rely on the character, ability, strength, and truth of someone or something, a person or thing where we place our confidence (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).
The five actions of trusting faith are:
- Understanding why trust is important.
- Trusting God is Good.
- Trusting God Knows Best.
- Relying on God’s Strength.
- Accepting God as truth and the consequences which follow when we don’t.
Read Proverbs 3:5
On a scale from 1-10, 1 representing none of your heart and 10 representing all of your heart, where are you when it comes to trusting God?
Whose understanding do you most often find yourself trusting in?
Where do you struggle most when it comes to the importance of trusting God?
- His goodness?
- His knowledge?
- His strength?
- His truth?
Read Romans 6:16
Who or what are you a slave to? Why?
The five actions of Obey are:
- Trusting enough to obey.
- Battling our thought life to overcome our own understanding and obey Him instead.
- Obedience is faith in action.
- Seeing obedience as an invitation to work alongside Him.
- Recognizing obedience is received by God as love, and leads us to loving others.
What is your general attitude about obedience? Do you see it as an invitation to love God more?
Our final faith action when it comes to God is Love. The five aspects of love are understanding:
- There is more than one word for love in the original language of the Bible.
- God’s love as Father.
- God’s love as Friend.
- The Spirit of God’s Love.
- Love for God is love for others.
Sister Talk: Faith in Action – Part One ended here, but we didn’t. We went on to spend almost a year Going Deeper into each one of the five aspects of the five faith actions. Which then led to our Summer Soak series on love based on the verses which define the spirit of God’s love.
Read 1Corinthians 13:4-7
What aspects of love are found in these verses? When it comes to love, where do you struggle?
Now we find ourselves at the beginning of Sister Talk: Faith in Action – Part Two, Loving Others. And here’s what to expect…
Each week covers a single faith action in five parts. They will appear on the blog daily or if you choose, you can sign up to receive them via email each day they publish here. If you prefer, click here to get a PDF of: Week 1 – Respect.
At the end of each day you will find a time to Talk It Out:
- Talk it over with yourself. This section consists of questions to help you look inside and examine your faith. A space for journaling is included. Use the space to draw or write your thoughts. You may even have your own questions spurred by the initial question.
- Talk it over with God. Here we offer you a prompt and Scripture to use as a time of prayer. Incorporate the Bible verse into your prayer. Reaching out to God to is an important part of active faith.
After you talk out what’s been taught, there is an opportunity to actively engage through spiritual disciplines and Work Out Your Faith:
- First you will find a way to exercise the specific lesson taught each day. A different way to Respect, Share, Give, Encourage, and Hope will be found in this section. Keep them in mind as you go about your week. Look for opportunities to practice the spiritual discipline, putting feet to your faith.
- Reflection Scripture is the second part of working out your faith. In this study we are replacing the Memory Verse with Reflection Scripture. Prompts for reflecting on Scripture will be found in this section each week.
Reflection is the practice of looking into God’s Word and seeing what you see of yourself. Do you reflect what the verses depict about faith? Or are you at odds with what you see? Ponder, consider, meditate are other words which describe the way we want you to interact with His Word.
God’s Word is living and active. For it to have impact on our lives we must let it enter our hearts, challenge who we are, what we believe, and transform the way we live. We want you to learn to reflect on Scripture in a way it becomes part of your life and is reflected back to the world through you.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
James 1:23-25 ESV
Reflecting on Scripture with the intention of coming into agreement with it, doing it, brings untold blessings and freedom. We do not want you to miss anything He wants to reveal about Himself or you through His Word. It’s an essential part of working out your faith to actively love Him and love others.
We know everyone’s time is limited, and we are blessed you are making us a part of your life.
We look forward to the journey over the next five weeks. Building on our love for God, by learning to love others as He calls us to.
Father God, bless us with Your love for others.